Do I Need a Sliding Miter Saw? [Things to Know Before Purchasing One]

Article Last UpdatedSunday, October 27th 2019

Getting an enthusiast-level workshop can be an excellent thing for a DIY woodworker, but it can also get pretty expensive. Woodworking has a lot of nuances, so more often than not, the aspiring craftsman or woman will ask oneself things like “Do I need a sliding miter saw?” Seeing that there is not a straight answer to this type of question, it is essential to determine what types of projects one would like to take on. It is also helpful if you would have a deep understanding of miter saws.

What are the Types of Miter Saw: The Differences

Miter saw comes in two types, and they are the standard miter saw and the sliding miter saw. Both of them operates using the same principle. A blade that can pan and tilt that will give the user the ability to cut at different angles. Nonetheless, there is a key difference between the two.

  • Blade Head

The blade head on the standard miter saw is stationary, while the sliding miter saw has the blade head mounted on one or more rails, allowing the user to make wider cuts with less effort. A sliding miter saw will increase the efficiency of the workflow if the user finds himself or herself constantly having to make more cuts to split a piece of wood.

  • Blade Size

Whether sliding or stationary, how thick of a piece the saw can handle will always be determined by the size of the blade. Typically, both types of miter saws come in three size choices including 7.5 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches. The 10 vs 12 inch miter saw comparison is more relevant because they are much more common.

The application of these blades goes from cutting small crown moldings, tiles and pipes (7.5 inches), to bigger cuts, like wooden poles, fence pieces. So, it just makes sense to pick a bigger blade for more significant projects. However, the cost of the purchase also increases with the size and feature set of the power tool. With that in regard, let us take a look at the uses of the sliding miter saw so that you can decide whether you would really need one or not.

Do I Need a Sliding Miter Saw: The Facts

The miter saw is undoubtedly a great tool to have as it opens up new dimensions with its versatile cuts, but it also has some serious limits to consider before purchasing one. Hence, the question to ask is “Will a sliding miter saw help me at this point?” rather than “Do I need a sliding miter saw?” since all woodworkers will need a sliding miter saw at some point. With that in mind, let us now go into further details.

  • The Purpose

There are two different types of cuts that go on in the workshop: Crosscuts and rips. The crosscut refers to the process of cutting a piece of wood across its length, while a rip will cut a piece of wood across its width. Crosscuts are used in making frames as well as cutting pipes and tiles. On the other hand, rips are used in making tables, fences, chairs and more.

Miter saws, whether standard or sliding compound miter saws, can only make crosscuts. They are limited by how much wideness they can cut by the surface of their work table and the fence installed at the base of the saw. Typically, any miter saw can cover a 2×8 piece of wood at most.

Moving on, there are four different types of crosscuts that one can make using a sliding miter saw, and each refers to the angle and sharpness of the cut. The standard crosscut is a simple straight cut that splits a piece of wood in half. On the other hand, the miter cut refers to the cutting of the length of the wood at a definite angle. This is useful for making square corners for objects such as frames. The bevel cut is basically a miter cut that is done at a vertical angle, rather than horizontal.

Lastly, the compound cut occurs when the worker sets a horizontal and a vertical angle to the blade. This will allow the user to cut more complex edges that are useful in making joints for pipes or creating precise corners, like the ones needed to connect two crown moldings. While a compound miter saw will greatly increase efficiency, a classic miter saw can also achieve this type of cut with a few extra steps.

do i need a sliding miter saw

  • Other Things to Keep in Mind

As mentioned earlier, if you have large projects to work on, a bigger and more complete miter saw might be the way to go. Although it is expensive, you must remember that contractors can ask for more money, depending on the size of the project that they are willing to take. So, a bigger saw is a justifiable expense if you are in the construction industry and work on multiple projects.

The same is true for DIY enthusiasts. The more projects one can make in their own workshop, the more money they can save on furniture, remodeling, outdoor upgrades and so on. A complete workshop is an asset, and power tools are cost-effective.

In addition, if one is looking for a new type of project, such as making crown moldings, wooden frames and so on, there are new costs to be factored in other than the saw itself. PVA glue, nail guns, and laser guides that are compatible with the new piece of equipment, as well as an extra set of blades will all add up pretty quickly to the cost. Thus, without the proper dedication, one can spend one’s hard-earned bucks elsewhere.

Further, there is a learning curve when using a new power tool. While one might get away with a crooked leg and an uneven fence, making moldings and window or door frames require very precise cuts and measurements. There are a few numbers of trial and error involved, which means that learning this new dimension is sometimes a lengthy process.

Best Sliding Miter Saws [Top Brands Reviewed]

Picking out the right sliding miter saw can be a bit of a challenge. After all, there are so many brands and models to pick from out there. For the sake of saving time, we have gathered reviews on the five best sliding miter saws below.

DEWALT (DCS361B) Sliding Miter Saw, 20V Max (Bare)

best sliding miter saw dewalt DCS361B

DEWALT is known for making quality products, and such is no different than with this saw. It provides an integrated cut line for its cross-cut positioning system. This system means adjustments are kept to a minimum for the sake of accuracy and visibility. It can cut 3 5/8 inches with a nested crown and 3 ½ inches vertically.

This saw also comes with a stainless steel miter detent plate. The plate features 11 positive stops, which helps to improve productivity while ensuring that users make cuts accurately. At the same time, the bevel scale makes bevel angle adjustments that are also easy and accurate. Additionally, this saw is relatively lightweight as it only weighs about 30 pounds total. This factor allows for easy storage and transportation. Such a situation includes shipping. Even though the saw is large in dimensions and little heavier than most items that ship from online stores, it should ship without any damage.

Another great feature of this saw is the cam lock miter handle, which delivers quick and accurate miter angles. It boasts a precise miter system and a machined base fence support for optimizing durability and cutting accuracy. Furthermore, this saw possesses a cordless power supply, meaning it runs off the 20V Max battery pack DEWALT has become known for. These batteries are not included with the saw, so they must be purchased separately, along with the battery charger. For people who already use DEWALT's battery powered line of tools, this saw will make a nice addition to that collection.

The entire package contains a carbide blade, the user guide, a blade wrench, and a material clamp. The saw itself measures 19.88 inches by 25.25 inches by 15.69 inches. Additionally, DEWALT provides a three year, limited warranty on this product. The maximum cutting capacity for the sliding action on this saw is eight inches. Unfortunately, it does not provide power through all materials in one cut. For example, it could handle a 4X4 in two or three cuts instead of just one. The blade used for this saw is 7 ¼ in diameter, the same as a circular saw, so it can only go a maximum of 2 7/8 inches in some instances.

RYOBI TSS102L Sliding Saw with Laser 15-Amp 10 in.

ideal sliding mitre saw ryobi TSS102L

RYOBI's TSS102L saw has a laser guide and works on 15 amps of power. It also includes an electric brake stop for the sake of safety. The blade will stop a few seconds after the trigger is pulled. Unlike the DEWALT model above that features 11 positive miter stops, RYOBI's TSS102L only offers nine positive miter stops. However, it does also have detent action for more precise cuts. The exact line laser guide also provides more accuracy when making cuts, which also helps with the line of visibility for safety precautions. Additionally, this saw includes table extensions for helping it to sit level on any surface. Instead of having a 7 ¼ saw blade to match those on a circular saw, this miter saw by RYOBI uses a 10-inch blade instead. This larger blade provides a much smoother cut in the long run. Therefore, it can rip through thicker materials like a 4X4 post in one cut without much problem. It can cut up to 1X12s and 2X12s with ease as well. The arbor size for this blade is 5/8 inches. Depending on the blade being used, it will also cut through eight-inch width laminate board.

Instead of working on battery power as with DEWALT's model above, RYOBI's model works on corded electric power. In total, it weighs about 35.8 pounds, so it is a bit heavier than the previous model. However, it is still easy to carry and store. Furthermore, it should not come damaged when shipping from an online store. The measurements of this saw are as follows: 36.1 inches by 22.8 inches by 16.9 inches.

There is one concern with this saw, though. Claims have been made that the dust collector does not work as well as the same tool on other machines. Therefore, users need to plan on having to do some sawdust cleanup from time to time with this saw. Otherwise, this saw more than does the job needed in any workshop or on the go.

Genesis GMSDR1015LC 15-Amp 10-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw

top rated genesis miter saw gmsdr1015lc

While Genesis is not as well-known of a brand as RYOBI or DEWALT, they still have a great miter saw an option in their GMSDR1015LC saw. This saw can make precision cuts up to 45-degree angles to both the left and right. It can also make bevel cuts to the left at a maximum of 45-degree angles. It can be used for compound cutting on materials like crown molding, shadow boxes, picture frames, and much more. The laser light that comes with this saw for a guide allows for quick adjustments and improved accuracy in making cuts. It also has an electric brake stop, which will stop the blade in mere seconds. Additionally, it comes with a spindle lock that can be used for quick blade changes.

Another great feature of this model is that it, too, runs on corded electric power. Therefore, carpenters and frequent users of this saw do not need to worry about keeping track of batteries over time. The blade used for this saw is 10 inches in diameter, which is once more larger than the blade utilized on the DEWALT model. Hence, this blade can power through thicker materials with ease and grace. Blades that come in the package have 60 teeth for cleaner cuts. For the sake of easier installment, the blade already comes preloaded into the saw. So, users need to watch out for the blade when they take the saw out of the box and transport it for the first time.

Furthermore, it can also do straight cross cuts up to 12 inches, and it can cut flooring and siding as easily as it can power through the materials already mentioned. It has a 15 amp motor to drive the blade, and it moves at 4,800 rotations per minute. Additionally, it comes with a dust bag, two extension wings, a rear support foot bar, and 2 AAA batteries from the laser. These batteries will need to be replaced over time as the laser does not run off the same power supply as the rest of the saw.

Chicago Sliding Compound Miter Saw [10 Inch with Dust Bag, Extension Bars and Table Clamp]

good chicago electric miter saw

This saw by Chicago Pneumatic comes with a 10-inch blade as well. It slides to the right and left with ease, and it operates under a 45-degree bevel movement without problems. The motor works on 15 powerful amps, which means power is not in short supply with this model. At the same time, it also works on corded electric. Therefore, carpenters and home remodeling experts do not need to worry about tracking down batteries and keeping them charged on the job site. Furthermore, this saw comes with a dust bag to help with cleanup along the way. The dust bag is rather small, so it needs to be cleaned out more frequently than on other models, but it does minimize saw dust with ease.

Chicago Pneumatics' saw will also perform precision cross, bevel, and miter cuts without much problem. It can bevel at 45-degree angles to either the right or left. Unlike other models, this one does not include a laser sight for heightened cutting accuracy. Instead, it has dual linear slide rails that promote stability and smooth, precise cuts. The brushes on this model are also easy to access, and they can be safely stored away without problems.

Additionally, this saw can make miter cuts up to 12 inches and a 45-degree tilting blade. The 15 bevel cutting capacity is also a nice feature, especially since the saw can move at rates of up to 5,000 rotations per minute. It has an arbor size of 5/8 inches, like with other 10-inch blade models. The cord length of this model measures a little over six feet, so the saw will need to be positioned close to a power supply. The maximum cut depth at 90 degrees is 2 ¾ inches, whereas the maximum cut depth at 45 degrees is 1 9/16 inches. They will also move a maximum of 12 inches from side to side.

Black + Decker SM1850BD 7-1/4" Sliding Compound Miter Saw

greatest sliding miter saw is the black and decker SM1850BD

Black + Decker is known for their quality tools as well. Their miter saw comes with a 7 ¼ inch blade, which is similar to the DEWALT model that uses a circular saw blade instead of a full, 10-inch blade. Therefore, Black + Decker's SM1850BD-7 is compact in nature, which makes it great for traveling, transporting, and use on the go. Even though this saw is more compact than other models, it still features large cutting capacities. At the same time, it can handle cutting through harder, thicker materials like a crown and base moldings. Hence, it can also handle cutting through siding and flooring without much problem or exertion.

The lightweight nature of this model means it is built for transportation between home and the work site, too. It only weighs about 24 pounds in total. Hence, shipping this tool from an online store will not be a cause for much trouble or damage. It can cut up to two inches by eight inches at 90 degrees, and it can handle up to two inches by six inches at 45 degrees. Like other models on this list, it operates on corded electric power, thus saving people from charging batteries. It requires 120-volt access, and it will work on 220 volts with an adapter or dedicated line.

There are a few downsides to this saw. It does not perform as deep of cuts on the first pass, so a few passes might need to be done. It does not include dual linear rails or a laser sight guide for accurate cutting aid. The blade that comes with this saw is rather small, and it only has 24 teeth. While it does use a dust bag, the bag is rather small to match the rest of the saw's size, so it needs to be frequently changed.

Sliding Miter Saws: Final Thoughts

Whether or not it is going to be the only tool in the workshop, a sliding miter saw is enough to open up a lot of different, challenging and fun woodshop projects (and more). From something as simple as a wooden picture frame to something as complex as the plumbing for the next heating system, a miter saw can do it all.

Make sure to look at the wide variety of blades and accessories that are currently available on the DIY market to get a taste of what the big picture looks like.

Even though there are several saws to pick from on this list, they are all the best in their class. The first decision to make, however, is whether or not to use corded power or battery power. Once that decision is made, the options are easy to pick from.

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